Regardless of your age, level of experience, or choice of equipment...the number one hassle in surfing is dealing with crowds...
Mat surfers have an edge in that we tend to be non-competitive. For most of us, a lone wolf go out in junk surf is preferable to butting heads with the alpha-males at the local super-spot. And our choice of drug delivery, the humble mat, lends itself to poor quality waves.
So, we're a leg up on the deal to start with.
But what if, for some practical reason, you're going to crack a lineup peppered with a collection of Kelly Slater cultists with a surf mat under your arm? How should you approach it?
Rob from Jacksonville spent this past Tuesday morning in just such a position...and not only did he handle it well, he effectively verbalized it.
I surfed the North Side of the Jax Pier Tuesday in 2+’
clean conditions. It was so crowed on the South Side of the pier it looked
like there were a couple water polo matches going on at the same time in
the line up.
Here's some of the chaos off of Surfline's cam from the South Side that morning...
It was a totally different vibe from my usual spot, but it
was the only place was breaking within driving distance. I chose the less crowded North Side.
I said a
little prayer, suited up, and blew up the Fatty. As I walked down from
the parking lot I was peppered with, "That's not a surf board, that's a
raft" comments. I have thick skin, so I just smiled and kept walking. You have to remember this is probably the first time most of
these guys and girls have seen a surf mat. I've never even seen another
prone rider in the line up!
When I got to the water I felt all eyes on me, being on the North Side
of the pier it was less crowded, but there where still about 10 guys in
the water with me. I felt something I have never felt before mat
surfing, pressure. I paddled out with the stink eye on me strong!
reached the line up I was greeted by some groms with stink eyes and
some whispering between the four of them. I paddled out a little further
than the rest of the lineup ;-)! I waited for a plus size set to roll
through and snuck in out back on my first wave! It was a screaming high
line right and I got to see those stink eyes look surprised, and those
tight lips turn to smiles, as I let out a YEEEEEWWWWWW all the way to
everyone's position in the lineup, and all the sudden I was just
I caught every wave I paddled for, and had some rights so
long I had to get out and walk back. The pressure I felt had nothing to
do with me, or the other surfers out at the Pier. I felt like that
because I was the only one in the water representing mat surfing, and I
wanted to represent it well. I was so stoked on the session and had a
tremendous amount of fun!
Happy New Year! Keep Spreading the Stoke Paul!
PS I would have taken some go-pro video but the vibe told me to leave the camera in the car :-)!